The three-tiered personnel challenge: Recruiting, training and future planning
The glass industry has a people problem. Or, more accurately, a lack of qualified people problem.
I was shocked to read a statistic that said the contract glazing industry will have 33,400 job openings between 2010 and 2020, which is "80 percent of the total number of glaziers employed in 2010," according to a report from 24/7 Wall St. (Thanks to Max Perilstein for leading his blog two weeks ago with this news). And it's not just contract glaziers that need people.
"We struggle with finding the right talent that is interested in getting into glazing," said Scott Clymire, vice president, United Architectural Metals, during the State of the Industry panel at the Glazing Executives Forum last week in Las Vegas. With design-assist becoming more common, UAM is seeking architects and engineers that want to get involved on the manufacturing side of the building trade, he said.
As the glass and glazing trade becomes increasingly more sophisticated, education and training on all levels at a company are critical. "Our employees are assets, and the investment in people is important," said Garret Henson, vice president of sales for Viracon, who also spoke during the GEF panel.
New employees coming into the industry will expect these training opportunities, added panelist Oliver Stepe, senior vice president of sales & marketing for YKK AP America. "More and more, we are hiring new people from outside of the industry, and they're asking us, 'what are you doing to train?'" YKK developed several training programs that it utilizes when necessary, including a basic product training, one week manufacturing training, a quick start program to prepare new employees for customer service within 90 days, and career development training.
"One of the best things you can do is to use an employee to train other people," Stepe says. "It doesn't have to be the most seasoned person. It's a good motivational technique. Send employees to conferences and symposiums, and when they come back, have them speak to the team about it."
In addition to recruiting and training, companies also need to be planning for the departure of their seasoned workforce. "Succession planning is critically important," Henson said.
Companies are faced with a three-tiered personnel challenge: to recruit talented young people, train them, and poise them and others at the company to become the future leaders of the company and the industry. And, according to economist Jeff Dietrich, the time to make those investments in people is now. "You should be hiring," said Dietrich, senior analyst for the Institute for Trend Research, at GEF. "You have a window where you can hire young and intelligent people and not pay them what they are worth for two or three years. Hire them and train them now."
Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.